What happens when you throw together superheroes from every corner of the Marvel galaxy? An epic two-and-a-half hour movie with an unending slew of action and a monsoon of tears. Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, is arguably the biggest crossover mashup in cinematic history. If the staggering presale numbers are any indication, box office records are bound to be broken.
After the wildly disappointed fan reaction to Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel fans were biting their fingers in dubious anticipation for the release of Infinity War. I think it’s safe to say that most of us were won over.
Infinity War follows about three different stories and locations concurrently at any given time as the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) team up to take on the excessively powerful Thanos (Josh Brolin), and prevent him from obtaining all six infinity stones, which would give him the power to decimate entire planets with the flick of his wrist. Anyone powerful enough to knock around Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is not someone I want to mess with, and that was when Thanos only had one stone.
Like many villains, Thanos has that “Woe is me… Nobody understands me… Soon you’ll see that what I’m doing is for the best…” mentality, which plays out more and more with each interaction he has with his adopted daughter, Gamora (Zoe Saldana). He becomes increasingly desperate for her to see things from his genocidal point of view. Some villains are successful in winning pity points with the audience; Thanos is not.
When mortals view themselves as gods, deciding who lives and dies, and task themselves with saving the world, they become a force of destruction to the very world they aimed to save. Even villainous characters grow increasingly tired of Thanos’ tirade in Infinity War. At one point, Thanos shows a glimmer of regret, which may be indicative of a future plot, but in all likelihood, that small flicker of humanity will fade to ash.
In the midst of all of the doom and gloom are humorous, lighthearted moments that give fans a much-needed break from the heaviness that surrounds much of the movie. Going into the movie, I was skeptical about Infinity War featuring so many characters. Movies that try to cram too much tend to be choppy and all over the place. Usually, when a movie is broken up into simultaneous stories, I get bored with certain parts featuring characters I care less about and grow tired of the back-and-forth nature of the film. I was pleasantly surprised with the way Infinity War was pieced together, which was, in part, due to strategic character placement.
Teaming up Rocket (Bradley Cooper,) Thor, and a sassy teenage Groot (Vin Diesel) to search for a weapon powerful enough to take on Thanos provided the perfect combination of sarcasm and gruff bluntness. One of my favorite pair ups was Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), and Drax (Dave Boutista), which provided the most entertaining and quippy exchanges in the series thus far. It’s also always fun to see Iron Man get overprotective and paternal when it comes to Spidey. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) fans will be sorely disappointed that he was missing from the movie. (I know I was unsatisfied with the throwaway line that he didn’t want to leave his family to help fight.)
Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Vision (Paul Bettany), Black Panther, Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johanson), Bucky, Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), and Okoye (Danai Gurira) offered the ultimate combination of girl power and a formidable united front on Wakanda during the movie’s climactic, finger-biting battle scene.
When I went into the movie, I had the expectation that the characters would be divvied up by their respective universes. Doing so would have been unoriginal and uninspiring, as it would have prevented many of the crossover interactions from making Infinity War the reimagined movie that it is. All I ever needed in my life was a sass battle between Star-Lord and Iron Man, and for Star-Lord to get adorably self-conscious in the wake of Thor’s godly stature.
Each Marvel universe and set of movies has their own feel, tone, and brand of humor—it was refreshing to see them all mashed together on a bigger scale than we’ve ever seen before. For anyone, like me, who thought Age of Ultron’s Hulk and Black Widow pairing came out of nowhere, there’s a brief, mocking reference to that ish in one of the reunion scenes, so look out.
Many of our favorite heroes got a makeover in Infinity War. Black Widow dyed her hair blonde—probably because she didn’t want to be outshined by Gamora and Scarlet Witch’s equally red hair. The Hulk was having some… performance issues, which resulted in the semi-disappointing return of Hulkbuster. Iron Man’s new suit is lit with tech that rivals the intricacies of Black Panther’s suit, and Spidey got… Spider leg things?
Spider-Man is one of my favorite superheroes, but in the irony that is my life, I’m arachnophobic to the nth degree. I can’t even watch The Amazing Spider-Man without a partner in crime to tell me when the random spiders go away. I’m less than pleased with Spidey’s creepy new spider legs, but Cap’s new scruff and dark suit almost make up for it.
Seeing Infinity War in IMAX 3D was an unparalleled experience. The opening night crowd for this movie was hype. Instead of watching the movie in the same room, we experienced it together as a whole–laughing, cheering, gasping, and yelling. It was an adventure that can only happen in fandoms where people care about the universe and the characters so intrinsically, that they become a part of who we are.
Infinity War introduces the audience to new worlds with stunning cinematography and visual effects, but it wasn’t the explosions or the manifestation of raw kinetic powers that stuck out to me the most—it was a simple snowfall scene. RealD is great and all, but there’s nothing quite as satisfying as IMAX 3D to feel like a part of a movie. During the snowfall scene, a wave of serenity came over me and it was one of the most peaceful scenes in the movie. Those kinds of small, minimal details are what make this movie so special.
Infinity War goes where no other Marvel movie has gone before. That sounds super gimmicky, but there’s no other way to describe it. Don’t go in expecting a reiteration of the usual rinse and repeat plots. In fact, don’t go in expecting anything. This movie takes risks. Lots of them. Be prepared to be wrong.
(We’re getting into some major spoiler territory here. Nothing specific, but more so an overall feeling of the ending.)
When Marvel announced that Infinity War was no longer being split up into two parts and that the next movie wouldn’t be a direct continuation of the story, I was expecting some resolution at the end of the movie. I was wrong.
The ending left the entire theater in a frenzy of tearful “What?!”s and “That’s it?!”s and some other choice words that aren’t appropriate for kids. It’s cliffhangers galore, so don’t expect a neatly tied up ending. (End spoiler.)
That being said, my favorite part of any Marvel movie is seeing who is there for the hype and who is a Marvel fan. People who don’t watch many Marvel movies will generally leave before the end credits sequence. Only one person left at the beginning of the credits, about 10 left after the main credits, but to my pleasure, a good 95 percent of the audience stayed through the 10-minute scroll of credits for the post-credits scene. My neighbors and I had fun boisterously calling out and applauding random names toward the end of the credits scene we were semi-dismayed at having to sit through. After a two-and-a-half hour movie that ended around 2 a.m., we just wanted to go home and process the movie.
But, never fear! Stan Lee is here! If my review was a bummer, take solace in the fact that Stan Lee, Marvel God, made not one, but two cameos in Infinity War.
This review was originally posted on the Toy Insider.